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One of the things i love about Peru...

The fruit and veggies!!!

I really need to include a picture with this post. In Arequipa, there are 2 large open markets (that I know of and have been to). In these markets are piles and walls of food. It's all really fresh and beautiful. You can find haba beans, green beans, and snow peas without blemish. There are different kinds of mangos (I love them even though they don't love me), pineapples, melons, grapes, papayas, passion fruit, citrus, ... the list goes on. They are not brought in from far away places so that they're usually perfectly ripe. You do have to make sure you wash them well because according to some, they're washed in sewer/run-off water. However once you get the dirt off and disinfect with some iodine, they're good to go. Also at the market are whatever body part of some animal that you may want - from the head of a pig to the feet of chicken. You tell the butcher that you want this part or that cut and they'll do it right in front of you. One section in one market also had the various organs all piled up. Muy interesante y divertido.

There are "normal" grocery stores, but according to the empleada, they're no different than what you can get in the market except that they're not as fresh but maybe cleaner. They are also more expensive that what you'd pay in the market.

To Peru and so far...

 There is so much to blog about at this point, not to mention I haven't written a thing since last June! I'm just going to tackle the last two weeks or so.

1. Pre-Peru
We lived with Stuart's parents in the month of december to get ready for the big move, sorting through our belongings to decide what would come with us and what would not. Somehow this process was difficult for us to do and we worked until the last minute packing what we could into 7 suitcases/duffle bags. We were able to pack most of what we wanted to bring in these plus some carry-on luggage. We even had Satomi carry a little backpack with our diaper changing stuff. Thanks to the illustrious Amy Dotson we were able to shuffle our belongings to make each suitcase weigh slightly less than 50 lb. Nonetheless we were up until 3 am to get up at 6 am for our flight to Atlanta. We had a little trouble with the checking in process, but eventually got on the plane.

2. Plane rides
Satomi and Samuel did great on the flights. The thing I was worried the most about were their ears. At one point Satomi was fussing about something and stopped drinking juice to equalize the pressure in her ear. Once she realized what was happening, she listened to me and drank her juice. Voila! no more pain. Samuel slept most of the time. He is such a laid-back guy. God made preparing for this transition easy by giving us an easy baby. On the long trip from Atlanta to Lima, a 6-hour flight, the problem was not change in cabin pressure, but boredom - I would have never thought this would be an issue. We took off around 5 pm so I figured Satomi would be asleep at least half of the flight. Uh, no. There was another toddler who was on the flight and Isabela and Satomi hit it off right away. They shared toys, stickers, coloring books, and even pacifiers (yeah, I know... yuck... oh well). Both kids were wired and would not go to sleep.

3. Lima
We arrived around 11 but did not finish getting our luggage until 1 or so. Satomi was still wired and played with Isabela while we waited for our bags. Satomi passed out around 1. Juggling 7 50-lb bags while carrying a sleeping toddler was difficult, to say the least. Samuel was out in his car seat so we didn't have to worry about him other than the possibility of the seat toppling off of a suitcase. We went through customs and thank goodness they didn't make us take Sam out of his seat. By then it was already 2 ish. We went ahead and checked in for our flight the next day to our current location, Arequipa. Rather than trying to check into a hotel we decided to stay in the airport. We didn't think it would be worth spending $200 or so to only get probably less than 6 hours of sleep. We hung out in a airport cafe for the night. Satomi slept on the bench, only to fall off at some point (poor girl... I told someone that that would probably happen...). Sam kept sleeping until around 4 am or so. I fed him and he went back to sleep. (He's the only one that got decent sleep the whole trip.) Stuart and I slept off and on with our heads on the table. Around 6 we went to the gate where we were to board our plane to Arequipa. There were much nicer seats that we could have all slept on at the gate.

4. Arequipa
The trip to Arequipa was uneventful other than dealing with a sleep-deprived toddler. We were welcomed by a missionary family at the small one-gate airport. The city itself actually has a population of 800,000 or so. We were fed and crashed in the afternoon.

5. Life so far
We are really enjoying being here. Things are definitely different, but it's like camping - you get used to what you do and don't have. The other day the hot water was out (the water is heated in black painted pipes - so once it's out, if it's night time, no more hot water), and Satomi and I seriously needed a shower. We boiled water in our tea kettle and mixed it with cold tap water. Using cups we managed to get somewhat clean. 

I definitely packed more than we needed. It's hard to know what you truly need to get by. I may send some things either ahead of us for our next trip or back to the US because I won't use them.

I haven't missed my shoes that I have left behind. I haven't had an opportunity to wear much other than my sneakers. 

We started language school this past monday and my head feels full. i think in spanish all day - the problem is that it's not necessarily correct. I just hear words in my head. I am enjoying studying and learning. Spanish is very interesting. 

We are living in the 3rd floor of the house the missionary family lives in. It's got a great view of the sunset. We don't need air conditioning because we just open the windows to let the breeze in, if we need it.

We are at a higher elevation and we all got a little sun the first time we went exploring. Poor Samuel who slept most of the time other than when he ate got a funny burn on a portion of his arm that stuck out of the bjorn carrier in a weird way (he keeps his arms in rather than dangling out). Poor baby.

The people here like to keep their children very warm. You'll see little kids who are wearing wool sweaters and hats in 80 degree weather. They're usually sweating profusely. I've been scolded once or twice by some grannies for not putting socks on Samuel's feet and not having a hat on his head in really warm weather. 

We have hired an empleada  to help us with cleaning, cooking, and watching Satomi while Stuart and I are in classes. What a life-saver! I also like her cooking more than mine! Satomi loves her A-mi-mi (Amelia) and we think she'll probably learn as much spanish from her as we will in class. 

Thanks for praying for us. We have definitely felt your prayers.

This just scratches the surface, but as I have time and think of them, I'll try to post.

A Downy metaphor

Last night I cleaned out the laundry room cabinet, only to find a really old bottle of Downy that had decided to leak and deposit blue/green waxy stuff on the shelf. Took me a while to clean it as well as throw away all sorts of products I have never used. I felt really good afterward.

So what was this bottle of Downy and other unused items doing in my laundry room? I got it from someone who didn't want to throw it away. They probably would have felt guilty for doing so; it would have been wasteful. I have never used these products and they have been wasting space in my cabinet. This person has often burdened me with their issues in such a way I became weighed down and stressed, and they were relieved. I realized with the disposal of the junk that I don't have to take their burdens. I can listen in an empathetic manner, but I do not have to carry these burdens. They are not mine to carry. I can put them out on the curb as I did the unused products and not let them take up any of my space.
Hi. Yes, it's Meg. I feel like I owe a post, but not feeling much creativity now. I'll do just a dry update:

1. I defended my dissertation almost a month ago. I am now officially a Ph.D. I don't feel different and it doesn't seem like people treat me any differently. I'm not sure what I expected, but the whole end process was definitely anticlimactic.

2. I am 14 weeks pregnant. Yes, I defended my dissertation, did taxes in one night, and threw a baby shower (which was the fun part of the three) all within the same two weeks or so. I'm not sure how everything got done. It was God.

3. Stuart and I have decided to postpone going to Peru until baby #2 a.k.a. "Monkey Wrench" is born. (MW will be a much cuter name for a boy...) We were thinking about going at the end of June and then coming back to the US to have MW. At that point we would have finished up what fund-raising needed to be done. For a wide variety of reasons we have decided that waiting would be the wiser choice. We are a little bummed that we're not going so soon, but maybe a little relieved at the same time; the pressure has been released.

4. My Aunt and Uncle (from Japan) decided not to come to my commencement because they're worried about catching swine flu. Slight overreaction in my opinion, but I suppose I would rather they feel safe. My parents and sister are still coming. Hurray! BTW, if you'd like to come, it's going to be super boring. May 22 (friday) at 10 am in the coliseum.

5. One year olds can be a lot of work sometimes, but they are so entertaining! Watching SRM learn and imitate is fascinating. The level at which she understands astounds me. It reminds me of the fact that just because people cannot communicate at a particular level doesn't mean that they're stupid. Like people who have degenerative muscular or nervous diseases - there is probably so much in their heads that they want to communicate, but because of their disorder, they can't get it out and people think they're dumb.

6. Our lab moved from the VA to UMC. Pluses: UMC has a good coffee shop, I don't have to walk over to seminars or administrative offices, no more noisy secretaries, I rejoin the rest of the microbiology department (sort of), and no more security checks at the door. Minuses: I have to park in the stadium parking - can be pretty bad on hot/rainy days, and I have to relearn where all the good snack machines are.

7. ?


Yes, I'm posting...

Recently, baby girl has dropped her nursings to twice a day. I don't mind. It's way more convenient. However, I now have reached the stage that the amount of calories I'm consuming is exceeding the amount of calories I'm burning. Some kind of activity is going to have to replace the missing 3-4 nursings or I'm going to have to cut back on the goodies.

I was able to eat dessert any time. So many times I'd have seconds. *sigh* I'm getting further away from fitting into my very skinny jeans (my favorite pair!). I actually fit into them when baby girl was 5 months, but ... oh wait, that's when she started solid food... gradually they've become tight enough to not be publicly acceptable for a 30-year old and now I can't button them without a little something over the waist band.

I've decided to begin seriously exercising. I now have access to the VA's workout room and if I go after most people have left for the day, I have the place to myself. I decided to start doing 30 minutes of cardio type workout three times a week for the first two weeks, and then throw in some weight work to help tone the muscles. I was hoping that increasing my activity level will be enough and i can consume more or less the same amount I had been. I try to remember what you always hear about getting in shape: you have to burn more calories than you intake. The problem is that doing cardio work makes me crave carbs like a crazy person. I see rice, cookies, pasta, etc. and my body tells me that i have to eat it. I try to resist, but it's as though I have a deficit and I have to make up for it. I do know that when you work out you initially burn the glycogen (long chain of glucose molecules) in your liver. Supposedly when you start running low on glycogen you begin to burn fat. I don't think I ever get to that point, not in 30 minutes. After exercising, my body tells me to eat glucose!!! It's replenishing the glycogen. So I have a theory. In the past, the times that I've lost the extra poundage and been able to fit in my jeans is when I've gone somewhere I have to walk alot. No excessive sweating or increased heart rate (>140bpm). In addition, I would be eating out alot and enjoying it. I am thinking that high intensity aerobic exercise burns up the glycogen and only begins to touch the fat stores when the glycogen begins to get really low. If I can anthropomorphize the body , I would imagine it would say something along the lines of, "Oh, we're working really hard, we need quick energy. We'll go to the reserves only if we need it." However if you're just doing a lot of walking at a normal pace, the body would burn some of the glycogen, but because the activity is not so intense, the body is at leisure to use some glycogen, and doesn't "feel" the necessity of sticking to the quick energy. The resources can be engaged to initiate fat burning.  [All this is unsubstantiated. It's only based on my personal perception and imagination :o) ]

Sometimes I think about how things were originally intended. Were we meant to go to gyms and spend an hour a day running on treadmills and starving ourselves, not able to enjoy food? I don't mean being gluttonous enjoyment. I would imagine people way back in the day would do a lot of walking for their transportation and would burn a lot of calories that way. None of this three times a week intense cardio stuff.

I would really like to begin walking to and from work. The only problem right now is that doing so would consume 1 hour per day, during which I couldn't be "productive." At the VA, I can start a PCR reaction and go work out while I wait for my products.

This is getting long. I don't know if anyone would be still reading, but I must go on.

The other issue about exercising is that I don't think stationary equipment do a person much good other than getting their heart going. Thinking about the physics of it, when you're on a stationary bike, the only part of you moving is your legs in little circles. You are not propelling your entire body through space. Remeber that work is defined as the product of distance and the force, and force is defined as mass times velocity. If you are biking on a real bike, you are moving your body and the bike a particular distance. On the stationary bike, the only mass moving are your legs.

Mass of your legs < Mass of whole body + bike 

Distance of legs moved < distance of body+bike in real biking.


Work of stationary bike < work of real biking.

It just drives me crazy that these machines tell me (paraphrasing), "Yay! you've walked 5 miles and burnd 400 calories!!!" When I actually get outside and walk 5 miles I'm sore!

Solution? As of now, I think I'm going to ditch the intense stuff and the stationary machines. I'm just going to go walking with baby girl outside and do weights. we'll see what happens.

Ok disclaimer:
I know some of you may say, "oh Meg, you're so silly. you look fine. " Thank you for making me feel good, but I know where I'd like to be physically and this is not it.

Unhappy scientist I am

I just posted some rantings. If you would like to read them, but do not have an LJ account, email me.


[Writing dissertation]


I found an old anime I used to watch in Japan. I idolized this character. I wanted her ability to transform into another character.

Is there anything you ever wanted to transform into?


We are going to Providence, RI the first week of October. Yes, we are bringing baby girl. Yes, we still hope that it will be a vacation regardless of the fact we'll be toting an 8 month old around.

We were not looking forward to the idea of toting the pack n play around the airport. Not to mention, we were planning on leaving behind a few things just to lighten the load we will have to carry around the airport.

My discovery? Baby equipment rental!!!!
What a concept! We won't have to tote the PNP around and we can even rent an exersaucer or high chair. This particular company also delivers. Yahoo!!!


Nothing drives me crazier than finding fruit in the grocery store that some idiot has punctured with their nail to test for ripeness.
Blech. Who wants fruit that's been contaminated with someone's under-nail microorganisms?